Free­lance econ­omy

> Free­lancers get to choose the jobs or projects they want to work on

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SUNBIZ - ON

In the wel­come ad­dress for INTI’s panel dis­cus­sion on free­lance econ­omy, Ti­mothy John­son shared, “60% said they wanted to be­come a free­lancer not be­cause they can’t get a job, but be­cause they want to do it. So we asked them why; it was flex­i­bil­ity.”

“The world we live in now is all about the flex­i­bil­ity to choose the jobs or projects we want,” John­son, INTI Ed­u­ca­tion Group’s se­nior vice pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing, ex­plained.

Recog­nis­ing the role of free­lancers in shap­ing the Malaysian econ­omy, and to bet­ter un­der­stand the grow­ing adop­tion of free­lanc­ing as a ca­reer, INTI International Univer­sity & Col­leges com­mis­sioned a first-ever sur­vey of 300 full-time free­lancers rep­re­sent­ing var­i­ous pro­fes­sional fields of work, in­clud­ing business, mar­ket­ing, IT and com­puter science, culi­nary arts, and art and de­sign.

The sur­vey un­cov­ered in­sights on the free­lanc­ing land­scape in Malaysia, as well as the po­ten­tial role of ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions and the gov­ern­ment in re­spond­ing to the growth of this sec­tor.

Com­ment­ing on the sur­vey, Ti­mothy Bu­low, CEO of INTI International Univer­sity & Col­leges said, “The free­lanc­ing econ­omy is chang­ing the way we think about ca­reers and has ex­panded job prospects be­yond tra­di­tional em­ploy­ment.

“With young pro­fes­sion­als opt­ing to free­lance in spite of the avail­abil­ity of full-time work, the im­pact of this shift must be given se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion if we are to lever­age these tal­ents in ad­vanc­ing Malaysia’s econ­omy,” Bu­low ex­plained.

To fur­ther de­lib­er­ate the sur­vey find­ings and un­cover the re­al­i­ties of the free­lanc­ing econ­omy in Malaysia, INTI or­gan­ised a panel ses­sion with Bu­low and in­dus­try part­ners Wong Theen Chuan, deputy man­ager for the Strate­gic Man­age­ment Depart­ment of EPF, Melvin Lim, CEO of Trisilco IT Sdn Bhd and an INTI alum­nus, and Lau Chak Onn, ed­i­tor-inchief at Cil­isos Me­dia Sdn Bhd.

In ad­dress­ing the ad­van­tages of free­lanc­ing, both sur­vey and panel found that free­lancers are in a unique po­si­tion to make choices in what they want to do rather than be­ing tied down to a scope of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. This cre­ates di­ver­si­fied work ex­po­sure, en­abling free­lancers to learn new skills and in­sights from client to client.

As dy­namic and ver­sa­tile pro­fes­sion­als, free­lancers could be­come real as­sets to or­gan­i­sa­tions and the econ­omy as they lever­age a broad per­spec­tive of ideas when en­gaged in projects. In spite of this strength, there are still gaps in the op­por­tu­ni­ties and de­vel­op­ment of free­lance pro­fes­sion­als in the coun­try. Lau, an es­tab­lished name

in the Malaysia’s dig­i­tal me­dia said, “The job mar­ket has changed. With few ‘safe’ jobs avail­able, more Malaysians are now jump­ing on the at­trac­tively lib­eral free­lance mar­ket. Call­ing your own hours, keep­ing 100% of the rev­enue, work­ing from hip­ster cafes may seem like a dream job, but do free­lancers re­ally know what they are get­ting them­selves into? Also, will this be good for the coun­try in the long run?”

De­spite the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of free­lanc­ing, long term fi­nan­cial sus­tain­abil­ity re­mains one of the crit­i­cal con­cerns for free­lancers, with 66% of re­spon­dents to the sur­vey not hav­ing a re­tire­ment plan, while 33% do not have a per­sonal sav­ings plan. These find­ings sup­port EPF’s re­cent call to the gov­ern­ment for more in­cen­tives un­der re­tire­ment sav­ings schemes.

Sub­se­quently, 65% of free­lancers ranked gov­ern­ment recog­ni­tion of free­lanc­ing as a for­mal ca­reer as the top of their Bud­get wish-list, in­di­cat­ing that this would en­able them to ap­ply for so­cial se­cu­rity, loans and cap­i­tal that would fa­cil­i­tate their fi­nan­cial sus­tain­abil­ity.

Wong, whose ef­forts in EPF’s Strat­egy Man­age­ment Depart­ment in­cludes work­ing closely with the Malaysian gov­ern­ment on pol­icy for­mu­la­tion for fi­nan­cial pro­tec­tion in old age ex­plained, “It is wor­ry­ing that de­spite the growth of the free­lanc­ing econ­omy in the coun­try, these pro­fes­sion­als do not save for re­tire­ment, as about 70% of Malaysians are be­low the global lev­els of ac­cept­able fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy rates.

“It is im­por­tant that free­lancers should start equip­ping them­selves with sound fi­nan­cial man­age­ment knowl­edge as they are at higher risk of not hav­ing a long term re­tire­ment plan com­pared to full time em­ploy­ees,” said Wong. WE'VE all been so en­grossed in our work­ing day that the world around us sim­ply fades away. What does not fade, how­ever, is the aches and pains that come with sit­ting still at a desk for 40 hours a week. To keep our bod­ies in good shape, it's im­por­tant to get mov­ing on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

Of­fice work­ers should make sure they get up and stretch at least once an hour, ex­perts say. Lau

Bu­low

Lim

Wong

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